Beyond Metal: More Hardcore Heroines in the Long Eighteenth Century (roundtable)

deadline for submissions: 
October 8, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
ASECS (American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies) 2022 conference
contact email: 


Penelope Aubin’s Maria tears out her own eyeballs to preserve her virginity in The Noble Slaves. Actress Mary Ann Yates rages on London’s eighteenth-century stages as Medea, Zara, and Dido, then later manages King’s Opera House with Frances Brooke for five successful years. Mary Prince leverages the British imperial system to ultimately gain freedom from enslavement. Catherine the Great stages a coup of her husband and takes the Russian throne in 1762; she then takes over screens in 2019’s eponymous miniseries (played by Helen Mirren) and 2020’s revisionist “The Great” (played by Elle Fanning). Throughout the eighteenth-century there are heroines who will stab, swashbuckle and take (no) prisoners; they might also create new artforms like Mary Delany, govern like Badshah Begum of the Mughal Empire, or successfully live outside the law, like Ching Shih, a Chinese pirate who defeated the British and Portuguese Navies. Who are they and where do we find them? How do these narratives, of both fictional and real women, expand our notions of dedication and personal convictions, perhaps to an uncomfortable degree? What is so attractive about women who appear to resist conforming to norms? How do interpretations of canonical novels by Samuel Richardson, Maria Edgeworth, or Jane Austen change if considered through this lens? What changes when these women are remediated in twenty-first-century media? This roundtable seeks to juxtapose women from a range of geographical and historical locations, exploring makes them so intense no matter the century. Proposals focused outside the Anglo-American tradition particularly welcome.

FYI: Roundtables are shorter presenations (7-10 minutes) with longer time for general discussion at the end.

When and where:

52nd ASECS Annual Meeting
Baltimore MD
March 31 – April 2, 2022